cover image A Dance of Cloaks

A Dance of Cloaks

David Dalglish. Orbit, $16 trade paper (480p) ISBN 978-0-316-24239-4

The first volume of Dalglish’s Shadowdance trilogy, a “frenetic masterpiece” with “growing pains” (to quote the author’s modest afterword) that achieved self-published success, has been substantially revised for this edition, but its core remains a winning combination of A Game of Thrones, sword-and-sorcery RPGs, and vivid description. Aaron, the son of master thief Thren Felhorn, is an unprepossessing introvert who catches his father’s attention by stabbing an intruder—at age eight. Five years later, Aaron is learning the thieving trade in Veldaren, a city defined by internal war between the thieves’ guilds and the merchants’ guilds, with the weak, paranoid king a pawn on the board. The point of view shifts continually, encompassing bit players and major characters from every angle of the struggle, and Dalglish handles his cast of thousands with aplomb. Despite the inevitable quasi-medieval setting, saucy dagger-wielding maidens, and very convenient magic, this is a fun read. Dalglish puts familiar pieces together with a freshness and pleasure that are contagious. Agent: Michael Carr, Veritas Literary Agency. (Oct.)